We're all Joining Jacks fight against Duchenne Musculare Dystrophy, are you?

L'Etape Part 1

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It's a while since my last blog and it seems an even longer time since Brad and Cath Wiggins came down to work and spurred me on to start planning our lastest challenge. They told me that I needed to do something extreme to boost the profile of the charity and to raise some much needed funds for DMD. Well I can honestly say that my latest fundraising event was definitely extreme! Taking on the famous L'etape Du Tour is NOT something I'll forget in a hurry.

With how the charity has grown over the last 12 months our lives have been absolutely saturated with pushing it forward even more. The Joining Jack team continues to keep the high standard set at all our events and we try our best to thank everyone for their continued support and commitment. This constant commitment to the charity as well as having a full time job (and being a dad to two little boys!) means that I didn't train quite as much train for this event as I should have done.

I have never been one to set myself challenges and I had constant reminders that I wasn't doing enough prepare for the L'etape bike race over in France. The trouble was that in order to "put the money in the bank" i.e. the power in the legs, you have to be out there on the bike clocking up over a 100 miles a week. I just didn't have the time. The L'etape had the dreaded addition of the broom wagon which if you didn't keep at a certain pace it was game over and asked to call it a day. This thought definitely played on my mind!

When I flew to Dubai last November to play in the Emirates Rugby 7's I knew exactly what was expected of me, but this time I was in a complete no-mans land. Before the ride we were sent loads of emails all telling me about special diets, training programmes, even video footage of the Sky team on what to expect and how to tackle the mountains - but I still wasn't prepared for what was to come.

Even though some of the team had clocked up some miles in training (Scully, Hampo and Coley in particular) we were all a fair bit bigger than most people who cycle as their number one sport. Before the ride I had completed 3 average rides of any distance; one 56 mile ride over the Yorkshire dales, one over Rivington that was about 28 miles long and one 29 miler with my good friend Sweeney doing 6 local hills. The challenge we were facing in France took on just over 80 miles, and included mountain climbs of up to 21km at a time. Any cyclist would tell you that I was woefully underprepared!

We arrived in France the day before the ride with our brand new JJ cycle jerseys, sponsored by a handful of generous companies (Develop, Fleetsmart, Light Distribution, Vermarc, 21st Century Guild, and The Wiggo Foundation) and fancy bikes kindly donated by Dolan. The bikes were all JJ branded, with our names printed on the side. We had Cath Wiggins in our team to help us amateurs along, a bike mechanic and enough supplements to sink a ship. I even looked like I knew what I was doing!

The bikes where assembled and checked, and the team were registered by the beautiful lake in Annecy. We had to make sure we were ready by 6.30am, to be in the town ready for the 7am start. I have got to say we looked the business and with the great bikes and all the new clothing we felt like we could cycle the world. Everybody was nervous and excited but the sense of togetherness was clear to see as we set off to the start line to join the other 13,000 riders here ready to test themselves against the mountains in this stage of the Tour de France.

Little did I know what we were in for!

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